KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday announced a partial mobilization in Russia as the war in Ukraine lasts nearly seven months and Moscow loses on the battlefield. Putin also warned the West that “it is not a hoax” that Russia will use all means at its disposal to defend its territory.
The Russian leader’s address to the nation came a day after the Russian-controlled regions in eastern and southern Ukraine announced plans to hold votes on becoming an integral part of Russia. Kremlin-backed efforts to swallow four territories could set the stage for Moscow to escalate the war after Ukrainian successes.
Putin accused the West of engaging in “nuclear blackmail” and referred to “statements by some high-ranking representatives of major NATO states about the possibility of using nuclear weapons of mass destruction against Russia”.
“For those who allow themselves such statements about Russia, I want to remind you that in our country there are also different means of destruction, and for different components and comparison of NATO countries In the more modern and when the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, defend Russia and our people, we will certainly use all the means at our disposal,” Putin said.
He continued: “It’s not a hoax.”
Putin said he had signed a decree on partial mobilization, which is due to begin on Wednesday.
Putin said, “We are talking about partial mobilization, that is, only those citizens who are currently in reserve will be subject to enlistment, and above all, those who serve in the armed forces will have a certain It takes military expertise and relevant experience,” Putin said.
The referendum, which is expected to take place since the first months of the war, will begin on Friday in Luhansk, Kherson and the partly Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhya and Donetsk regions.
Putin said the decision to partly mobilize was “absolutely sufficient to address the threats facing us, namely to protect our homeland, its sovereignty and territorial integrity, to ensure the safety of our people and peoples in free zones.” for.”
Earlier on Wednesday, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday dismissed as “noise” Russian plans to hold referendums in the occupied territories in eastern and southern Ukraine and called for denouncing votes beginning Friday. Thanks to allies of Ukraine.
Four Russian-controlled regions on Tuesday announced plans to begin voting this week to become integral parts of Russia, which could set the stage for Moscow to escalate the war after Ukrainian successes on the battlefield.
Former President Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy head of Russia’s Security Council, headed by Putin, said in the referendum that the diversion of territories in Russia would make the redrawn borders “irreversible” and that Moscow would need “anyone to protect them”. also means” will be enabled to use.
In his nightly address, Zelensky said there were many questions surrounding the announcements, but stressed that they would not change Ukraine’s commitment to retake the territories occupied by Russian forces.
“The situation on the front line clearly indicates that the initiative belongs to Ukraine,” he said. “Our position does not change because of noise or any announcement somewhere. And we have the full support of our partners in this.”
Upcoming votes in the Luhansk, Kherson, Zaporizhzhya and Donetsk regions are sure to go the way of Moscow. But he was dismissed as illegitimate by Western leaders, who are backing Kyiv with military and other support, which has helped its forces gain momentum on battlefields in the east and south.
“I thank all of Ukraine’s friends and partners for today’s broad doctrinal condemnation of Russia’s new pretentious referendum efforts,” Zelensky said.
In another sign that Russia is digging in for a protracted and potentially raging conflict, the lower house of the Kremlin-controlled parliament voted on Tuesday to toughen laws against abandonment, surrender and looting by Russian troops. Lawmakers also voted to introduce a possible 10-year prison sentence for soldiers who refuse to fight.
If approved by the Upper House as required and then signed by Putin, the law would strengthen the hands of commanders against failing morale among soldiers.
In the Russian-occupied city of Enerhodar, shelling continues around Europe’s largest nuclear power plant. Ukrainian energy operator Energoatom said Russian shelling again damaged infrastructure at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and forced workers to start two diesel generators for emergency power for cooling pumps for a reactor.
Such pumps are necessary to avoid meltdowns at a nuclear plant, even if all six reactors of the plant have been shut down. Energoatom said the generator was later turned off after mains power was restored.
The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has been a cause of concern for months because of fears that the shelling could lead to a radiation leak. Russia and Ukraine are blaming each other for the shelling.